Monday, March 8, 2010

Grade for the Weekend: "Exceeds Expectations"

Please note the super attractive face that I'm making as I outsprint the A rider at the finish for the crit.

Excuse me for a second while I brag a teensy bit.
B Women's TT: 3rd
B Women's Crit: 1st
A/B Women's Crit: 4th overall
B Women's Circuit Race: 3rd
A/B Women's Circuit: 8th overall

*to explain: the women's A and B fields were combined this year, so we race as a pack. It's generally expected that the A's will finish before the B's, so to be 4th or 8th overall is huge. Hopefully I'll be in the A's pretty soon.

In addition to doing really well, I got to help the team and garner a huge amount of points for us. Between me and the other amazing racers- including a ton of A men- we did really well this weekend. It was a huge shock to start the crit on Saturday and do that well.

As everyone knows, I've been super nervous about the races. I was sick, not feeling up to snuff, and generally nervous as hell. The time trial- 3 miles- went off smoothly, though I wasn't quite as fast as I had wanted to be. Still, it was enough to put me in third, only 5 seconds off the winner. I would have been in the top 5 A women had I been racing A's. I found that out seconds before the crit started, so it was a good way to get going and motivated!

Another major motivator: about an hour before the crit, DON showed up from Baltimore! I don't think I've ever been happier to see someone- I relied on his pre-race pep talks last year, and this year I was so bummed I wouldn't get one. Luckily, he got there right in time.

The crit started and I was literally shaking- so much that the girl next to me pointed it out. I naturally started in the back, as per usual. And got yelled at by everyone on the team, and my dad. So when we started, I jumped up and tried to move up. As we hit the first corner, I realized something: my heart wasn't racing, and I hadn't even noticed that we hit the corner! In fact, I didn't so much as touch my brakes. Very exciting stuff. Suddenly, I realized that I was moving up in the pack, in a very big way. And feeling great. When we hit the second lap, I realized that I was in the top three- out of A and B riders. Whoa.

I passed Cristian, who was marshalling, and he just yelled, "Whatttttttt???" then, "Go Molly!" It was awesome having someone in every turn cheering, and my dad and the A guys warming up were going crazy at the finish line that I was passing every lap. Finally, with one to go and 2 A women off the front of the pack, we were on the road right before the turn to the finish, when 2 other A women jumped. I was leading at the time, so I jumped with them. We hit the corner, and started sprinting like crazy for the finish. I passed the one girl (see the picture above) and then it hit me. I won my first race!

I've won triathlons before, but with them, you never know you won until after results are posted. And besides, you don't get to decide what your "winning stance" is. I found out that mine is a huge grin, one arm in the air, slighlty dazed and confused. I rode my cool down lap very hazily (apparently) telling everyone "oh my god, I won!" After the race, I rolled back to my family, grinned at my dad, who prior to the race I had told "oh god, I just hope I can stay in the pack." He just smirked at me, and says, "smartass."

Later, George said I was grinning like crazy the whole race, and he was right. Because it didn't hurt, I felt great the whole time! I should have jumped with the two A women, but I wasn't sure I could keep up. Oh well, next time... I'm finally thinking about race strategy, not just survival.

I texted Blake about it that night and he called to congratulate me. Apparently, coming in 4th with the A's is a pretty huge accomplishment, and to be honest, it kinda came out of nowhere.

Then, onto Sunday, the circuit race on the 2.4 mile course on Livingston Campus. I was crazy nervous, more so than on Saturday. Having set such a high bar for myself, I was terrified that it was just a fluke.

But, the race started, I positioned myself out in the front, and started another great race. To quickly summarize, I missed a 4 person breakaway by only a few feet and never managed to bridge up, but I pulled off in a 5 person breakaway of my own with some riders who I really have come to like a lot. We had a great few laps, almost catching the lead group, but not quite. Between the 2 A's and 3 B's in our group, we duked it out at the end, and I ended up the 3rd B woman in the race.

Rockin' the pace line in the breakaway

After my race, I had to run the 2.5 miles around the course, so I could get a small brick/cooldown in, and so I could cheer on my A boys! It was a great way to cool off after a long race, and definitely earned me some weird looks. Our team coach told me as soon as I finished racing, "go put on a jacket" I said, "hold my bike, I gotta run." He just laughed.

In all, it was a great weekend. But as my coach reminds me, this is just the small fish in the grand scheme of my race season- the important race is still months away! It's pretty great to get to race again, even if it is only "training" races. I'm having a great time, though the down side (kidding!) is that there's no taper or rest before each race- which is every weekend now through May. I kinda love that though.

So, a thank you to my team, who I most definitely want to stand with, throw down with, and completely and totally love. Mark did amazing racing B's, his leg seems to be in awesome shape and he did great. Matt and Charlie blew me away with their first foray into A racing, Will, Pat, LJ, and Greg all did great in the A's, as we knew they would, and everyone had a fantastic weekend. Charlie did a wonderful job organizing the race, and it was definitely worth the efforts we all put in, between getting race ready in terms of logistics, course setup, promotion, training, and everything in between.

"As for the rewards... For those and what they might be, you only had to watch the ECCC's awesome women for a little bit today and see how much happier almost all of them seemed to be. Sometimes you have a good race." -Joe Kopena, ECCC director

And I leave you all with this final view of the race:

1 comment:

maija said...

Congrats on some great finishes and your first win!